The mayor has called it a coup. Our MLA has stated the move couldn’t have been more positive, and Snow Lake citizens are scratching their heads and wondering how the council did it! If you are still wondering what has caused all this excitement, it is council’s Feb. 21 hiring of MaryAnn Mihychuk , Manitoba’s former NDP minister of industry and mines into the position of community development officer.
Asked why she wanted to relocate to Snow Lake and take on the position of community development officer, Mihychuk says that the community has always held a special place in her heart. While employed with the Manitoba Geological Survey, she helped map the area in the 1980s and her son attended J.H. Kerr School for several months during that field season. “It was the year of the big forest fire,” she said. “I came to understand what a special place Snow Lake was.”
Mihychuk says she has always kept track of the community, watching it go through a variety of ups and downs in the ensuing decades. She also acknowledged the pain which was undoubtedly felt during the depths of the downturns. “Needless to say when BacTech approached me to assist in the bioleach project, I was keen to bring a new opportunity to one of my favourite places,” said Mihychuk. “Finally, when I was approached to consider assisting the town, I was honoured to participate in the next chapter.”
A chapter that she says will see the town capitalize on the Lalor development, BacTech's $25-million plant, the re-starting of Alexis Snow Lake Mine, and the massive amounts of exploration going on in the Snow Lake camp. She says there are over 30 companies and prospectors working in the area and that this has made Snow Lake a hot exploration play.
Mihychuk is extremely well qualified for the position, and she will undoubtedly bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding to the table. As well as a formidable education (she holds a MSc. geology from Brock University and is a registered geoscientist in Manitoba and Ontario), Mihychuk has an abundance of experience.
She has a background of 30 years as a geologist, has served as the director of corporate relations for Hudbay, as well as director of regulatory affairs at PDAC, and while NDP MLA for Manitoba's Minto constituency, she served as minister of industry, trade and mines, and as minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade.
In terms of how she will tackle the job, Mihychuk feels Snow Lake is in a great position. She has confidence in the Snow Lake Community Development Plan and says that it is a great platform for future development. “The mineral supply and service sector and the development of a centre of excellence building on BacTech's commitment to conduct R&D on tailings from many parts of Canada and the Americas, are clearly opportunities for Snow Lake,” said the new CDO. “The challenge is undoubtedly infrastructure of transportation, retail, housing, and the need to work with our provincial partners to cut red tape and make things happen in a timely manner.”
In respect to the people she will be working with in order to bring local and area development strategies to fruition, Mihychuk says, “I am pleased to work with a group of committed hard working leaders with a positive attitude. With a good plan and a great team, we have the recipe of success.”